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LETTER xxv A BELLIGERENT CAMEL 205
ford of the Jagatsu, which I had been told to avoid,
where the caravan got into deep strong water which
carried the ydbus off their feet, and he says that they and
the servant were nearly drowned. Mirza had to go back
into the town.to obtain a guard from an official, as the
camping-ground was very unsafe, and it was 11 P.M.
before dinner was ready.
The next day I was ill, and rode only twelve miles,
for the most part traversing the noble plain of Hadji
Hussein, till the road ascends by tawny slopes to the
wretched village of Amirabad—seventeen hovels on a
windy hill, badly supplied with water. Partly sunk
below ground, this village, at a short distance off, is only
indicated by huge stacks of the Centaurea alata and tall
cones of JeiziJcs, which, being neatly plastered, are very
superior in appearance to the houses which they are
intended to warm.
The western side of the great plain was studded with
Ilyat camps of octagonal and umbrella-shaped tents with
the sides kept out by stout ribs. Great herds of camels,
and flocks of big fat-tailed sheep, varying in colour from
Vandyke brown to golden auburn, camels carrying fodder,
and tribesmen building it into great stacks, round which,
but seven feet off, they place fences of a reed which is
abundant in swampy places, gave life and animation.
Ilyat women brought bowls of milk and curds, and offered
me the hospitality of their tents.
As I passed through a herd of grazing camels, an
ancient, long-toothed, evil-faced beast ran at Soy with
open mouth and a snarling growl. Poor Boy literally
gasped with terror (courage is not his strong point) and
dashed off at a gallop; and now whenever he sees camels
in the distance he snorts and does his best to bolt to one
side, showing a cowardice which is really pitiable.
It was very cold when I left Amirabad the next